Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Monsters University is both cute and charming, and I at least found it to be not in the least ways unenjoyable while I was watching it. This is, apparently, where we are now, with Pixar Animation Studios. And note that I’m of the mind that Brave is a pretty solid movie that got a completely […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: Pixar Animation Studios’ love affair with franchising continues with their first-ever prequel, Monsters University. In keeping with my quest […]

We have arrived at a weird place in this voyage through Disney’s animated sequels: a film that isn’t a sequel, the original project that it’s not a sequel to wasn’t made by Walt Disney Feature animation, and the non-Disney non-sequel was not, itself, made entirely or even primarily by one of Disney’s own animation studios, […]

Poor Brave. It could have survived, and thrived, as just an animated family-friendly adventure movie. Instead, it has to be a Pixar movie, and not just a Pixar movie, but the Pixar movie that had to come out right after Cars 2 and prove one of two things, according to your tastes: either that Pixar […]

My short thoughts on Cars 2: it is gorgeous – as gorgeous as any animated movie is likely to be in all of 2011 – and it commits itself to world-building with such an incredibly minute (anal-retentive?) focus on even the teeny-weeniest details that it’s hard not to bow in its direction even though the […]

Pixar Animation Studios’ Day & Night played in theaters in front of the beloved Toy Story 3, the highest-grossing feature of 2010. I don’t think I’m being perverse if I say that I distinctly preferred the short, at that; my bona-fides as a Pixar fanatic and a Toy Story 3 partisan are not, or should […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: one of the biggest hits of the ten features to have preceded Toy Story 3 in the extraordinary run […]

Ho-hum. Another summer, another Pixar feature, another masterpiece. This time, though, the stakes were higher for the studio than they ever have been: for not only was there the pressure of continuing the run of magnificent CGI cartoons that have left Pixar arguably the most consistently excellent filmmaking body in history, there was also the […]

At the time I write these words in the winter of 2010, Finding Nemo is the highest-grossing of all ten Pixar films, and anecdotally, the one that seems to be the closest we come to a consensus pick for their greatest work. And why not? It’s arguably the most structurally sound of all their narratives, […]

The story goes that the Disney execs, flush with the excitement of direct-to-video sequels (a hellish new revenue stream they first discovered with 1994’s bland but inoffensive The Return of Jafar, though the Pandora’s box of inanity was really opened with 1997’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas), commanded John Lasseter and his Pixar […]

It’s almost hard to remember, but in 1995, Disney Animation Studios was still a pretty well-regarded brand name. They were fresh off the run of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King that had resulted in some of the biggest box office receipts and most glowing critical acclaim of the company’s nearly 70-year […]

The wave has broken and rolled back, finally: Up is the first film by Pixar studios in three years that does not fundamentally redefine what animated cinema is capable of achieving in the hands of modern filmmaking’s greatest collection of geniuses. It is merely an example of what modern filmmaking’s greatest collection of geniuses are […]